They say glowing on the outside starts from the inside, and it turns out, there’s actually some scientific truth to that down to the microscopic level (literally).
Gut health and the gut microbiome seem to be all the rage these days and for good reason. We’ve learned more about the gut microbiome in the past 10 years than ever before, and the SparkNotes version of those findings is that the strength and diversity of your gut microbiome affect every single aspect of your health.
From your immune system to sleep quality — the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that reside in your large intestine play a vital role in creating the conditions for you to thrive and show up as your best self — including the vibrance, clarity, and overall health of your skin.
And while external health doesn’t automatically equal internal health, the inverse does tend to ring true, which is where the gut-skin axis comes into play.
So before you drop your entire next paycheck on new facial serums, creams, treatments, and masks, you may want to consider getting the right dose of prebiotic fibrous foods and high-quality probiotics into your diet.
The gut-skin axis 101
Your skin actually has its own microbiome, but it’s also highly influenced by your gut’s microbiome.
Similar to how the gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional relationship between your gut and mental health, the gut-skin axis refers to the bidirectional relationship between your gut and your skin health.
Your skin in this sense, can often act as a mirror for what’s going on inside your gut and vice versa. Because the microbiome is so central to overall well-being by helping to maintain homeostasis in your body, when it’s out of balance, almost all your organs are impacted.
Your skin is particularly impacted by various gut issues like inflammation, dysbiosis (an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria), and infections because it’s our largest organ.
Our skin can also be impacted by our hormones. Given the gut microbiome’s role in producing and metabolizing various hormones, when we don’t have the right balance of bugs down there, it can throw off our hormonal pathways.
For example, excess levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that isn’t metabolized properly can result in an overproduction of sebum (an oily substance produced by the body), which leads to acne formation.
As we’ve continued to learn more about the gut-skin axis and gut microbiome in general, more studies are finding links between healthy skin and a healthy gut (ie, rich with good gut bacteria).
Skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, acne, and eczema have all been associated with gut disruptions, helping us make the link that when there’s gut inflammation, there’s often skin inflammation, too.
Skin symptoms that may indicate an unbalanced gut
Think of your skin as your body’s pulse check on what’s going on internally.
Skin symptoms that are a sign from your body something may be off:
Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis, is characterized by dry, itchy, and red patches of skin)
Psoriasis (an autoimmune skin condition characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin)
Rosacea (redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels on the face)
Dry, itchy, and irritated skin
While not all skin conditions are caused by gut imbalances, it’s a decent place to start, especially if you’ve tried topical treatments and haven’t seen success.
How to support your gut for better skin health
1. Take a high-quality probiotic (Seed’s DS-01® Daily Synbiotic is our go-to)
With hundreds of different probiotics on the market, it’s pretty much impossible to know which ones actually do what they say they do, especially since they all claim to have the same benefits. We’ve experienced that pain firsthand here at Rescripted which is why we did the vetting for you.
After trying out just about every probiotic on the market, DS-01® is by far the most noticeably effective. This is because the capsule-in-capsule ViaCap® protects the bacteria from oxygen, moisture, and heat through shipping, and then safeguards the bacteria’s viability from stomach acid and bile salts so they are alive when they reach the colon.
Plus, Seed is not just a probiotic, it’s a synbiotic — the outer part of the capsule is actually a prebiotic, which promotes activity and growth of the healthy bacteria found inside the capsule, which is where Seed’s clinically studied probiotic strains are housed.
2. Get in lots of prebiotics (high-fibrous foods)
Prebiotics are plant fibers that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and help them grow. Getting enough prebiotics is especially important if you’re taking a probiotic so the new bacteria you’re introducing to your gut can flourish and outcompete the bad bacteria that may be causing gut disturbances in the first place.
Examples of prebiotic-rich foods include: garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, artichoke, oats, barley, wheat, apples, flaxseed
3. Eat a diverse diet
The greater the variety of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds you consume, the better. Different plant foods have different fibers and phytonutrients, which contribute to greater gut diversity and help nourish your healthy bacteria strains.
4. Limit ultra-processed foods, sugars, and alcohol
Processed foods tend to be low in fiber, which can reduce gut diversity and slow overall gut motility. They also tend to be formulated with artificial flavors, sugars, and colorants, as well as preservatives and other synthetic fillers, all of which can create inflammation in your intestinal lining and compromise its integrity.
In a similar sense, alcohol, especially when consumed in high amounts, can alter the composition of your gut microbiome by reducing the abundance of beneficial bacteria and increasing the presence of harmful bacteria. It may also compromise the integrity of your gut lining, leading to inflammation, which has negative downstream implications for whole body health.
5. Limit the use of antibiotics and excess disinfectants when possible
Antibiotics, while useful at killing off pathogenic bacteria when necessary, aren’t targeted in their approach; meaning, they kill off beneficial bacteria too. This creates an imbalance in your gut microbiome by reducing the abundance of healthy bacteria, which creates the breeding grounds for unhealthy bacteria to take over if you don’t re-nourish your microbiome in an ideal way post-antibiotic use.
In a similar sense, disinfectants are designed to kill off all bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms on surfaces (even the good kinds), which can be helpful for warding off the spread of illness during flu seasons. However, when used in excess, they prevent us from being exposed to healthy bacteria from our environments that are necessary for cultivating a strong immune system, 70% of which is housed in our gut.
6. Incorporate fermented foods
Fermentation produces healthy probiotics by converting sugars into organic acids, gases, and alcohols — so when we consume fermented foods, we naturally introduce rich doses of healthy bacteria to our systems which can help create a balanced, diverse microbial environment.
Examples of fermented foods include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha, pickles, and sourdough bread
7. Get high-quality sleep and don’t sweat the small stuff
Disruptions in your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) can lead to changes in your gut microbiome. This is because your gut microbiome also operates on its own circadian rhythm (ie, internal clock), so when you have irregular sleep patterns or experience chronic sleep deprivation, you can throw off your microbiome’s rhythm.
Sleep plays a critical role in managing stress. Stress, when left unmanaged for extended periods of time, can trigger changes in gut motility and permeability, hormone secretion, the secretion of crucial digestive enzymes and acids, and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin that are vital for consistent bowel movements by way of the gut-brain axis.
So, if you’re looking to help support your dermatological health, start with your gut and take DS-01® to support healthy digestion, bloat ease, and your microbiome throughout the month. Visit seed.com and use the code RESCRIPTED for 25% off your first month’s supply!
Caroline McMorrow is Rescripted's Content Manager.